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MacGowan Residence


The MacGowan Residence, a Tudor-Revival style mansion constructed in 1912, is revitalized for use as a church seminary and residence. Rehabilitation includes introduction of life-safety systems, treatment of historic finishes, reconstruction of chimneys, improved sitework, and sympathetic landscaping.


The MacGowan Residence, built in 1912, is an outstanding example of the architectural design of Hudson & Munsell. The residence is an eclectic three-story Alpine-Craftsman structure with impressive chimneys, timber corbels supporting the roof eaves, and an asymmetrical front façade with layered gables that lend a graceful and visually balanced appearance that belies the structure’s true size. The decorative details on the exterior – brickwork, simple triangular pediments above the windows, and leaded glass panels - are juxtaposed to the large scale of the house.


The residence itself reflects the deluxe features as would have been found in mansions on West Adams Boulevard. The 17,000sf structure had a hierarchy of room sizes and architectural details from the grand public spaces, to second floor luxurious bedroom suites with private bathrooms and dressing rooms, to third floor live-in staff quarters and service areas. The residence was originally fitted with modern conveniences of the time including an intercom, vacuum, and forced-air heating systems. The residence was named a Historic-Cultural Monument # 479 in 1989.


Over time, the size of the building likely made it difficult for any owner to maintain. Records suggest that it served as a boarding house and as a church facility prior to purchase by the current owners. To transform what was once a gracious mansion into a modern, functional, and multi-use complex was a task that required a balance of what is new and necessary with that which represents the rich heritage of our past. The residence itself, in conjunction with the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, served as our guide. The complexity of materials and decorative themes offered us an index to a variety of design approaches for creating beautiful and functional living and working spaces.


Most of the main rooms on the first floor were originally intended for entertaining. With their classical ceiling details, crown moldings, and wood wall paneling - with different species in each room – these stately rooms lend themselves to the serve as new classroom and meeting functions. The Library, designed in the more informal Arts and Crafts style, provides an intimate place for smaller gatherings. Few alterations were required for these spaces to serve as the public rooms of the new seminary. In the secondary spaces, such as the kitchen area and the bedroom suites, the details and materials are less elaborate. To accommodate the residents, all seven historic bathrooms were restored and new bathrooms were added such that each residential suite has its own facilities. At the third floor, which was originally the servants’ quarters, the materials and details are simple and unadorned. The attic area is the most significantly transformed space in the building, serving now for the administrative needs of the seminary. Life-safety systems including fire sprinklers, fire alarms, and means of egress were incorporated throughout the structure with strategic interventions that adapt to the current uses while preserving the beauty of the original.


At the exterior, the chimneys are now restored to once again reflect the impressive size and scale of the building. The original brick drive and porte-cochere are rehabilitated to serve as the pedestrian walk and entry to the house. A new driveway and court, designed to incorporate the required fire access lane and turn-around, is paved with brick and stone in a modern design but referencing the original exterior features and is intended to appear as part of the garden.


The structure is equally fitting as a residence now as it was almost 100 years ago allowing a new generation to live with, work in, and experience the quality of life of a period building.

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